Skip to main content

How Do You Find the Time to Write? 6 Tips For Moms (and Everyone Else, Too)

People ask me – you’ve got a child, a job, a commute, a house to run. How do you fit it all in? Well, to start with, all that stuff about scheduling my day, setting aside proper writing time, settling myself into a solid routine? Forget it. That’s all shiny and fine if you’ve the time and the space. If you’ve got the job, and the family and the multipack of other fun responsibilities, you know it doesn’t work like that. However good your intentions, it’ll get messed up within three days of that nice chart thing that you’ve pinned to your fridge. That’s just how life works. So: 1. Master the art of snap-writing...

People ask me – you’ve got a child, a job, a commute, a house to run. How do you fit it all in? Well, to start with, all that stuff about scheduling my day, setting aside proper writing time, settling myself into a solid routine? Forget it.

That’s all shiny and fine if you’ve the time and the space. If you’ve got the job, and the family and the multipack of other fun responsibilities, you know it doesn’t work like that. However good your intentions, it’ll get messed up within three days of that nice chart thing that you’ve pinned to your fridge. That’s just how life works. So:

1. Master the art of snap-writing...

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

Guest column by Danie Ware, author of ECKO RISING (Titan),
a science fiction story. Danie is a publicist and event organiser
for cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet. She has been
immersed in the science-fiction and fantasy community for the
past decade. An early adopter of blogging, social media and a
familiar face at conventions, she appears on panels as an expert
on genre marketing and retailing. ECKO RISING is her first novel.
The novel is out in the U.S. in June 2013 (order it here), while
it is already out in the United Kingdom as of early 2013.
You’ll find Danie on twitter @danacea and at danieware.com.

1. Master the art of snap-writing.

Specifically – DON’T get into a routine. Don’t fall into a habit. Don’t fall victim to your own behavior patterns – you can only write with a coffee, with a biscuit, at 4pm, at your desk, with your cat on your lap and your favorite music…

You’ve got twenty minutes. Half and hour between this job and that one. An hour on the train or at home in the quiet (if you’re lucky). It’s all time and it all matters. Use it.

2. Don’t get hung up on daily wordcount.

Sometimes, I’ve sat down to write my thousand words – and I’ve written a thousand words of filler, just to get the job done. Remember – it isn’t how many words you write, it’s how many words you keep. And, as Mark Charan Newton pointed out, it’s not a race – the numbers are there for your structure and discipline, no-one else’s.

Likewise, if you do get a full day to yourself to write (hallelujah!) use it. Don’t stop at the thousand or whatever it may be, keep going and gain yourself some ground.

(How to Sell Pieces to Magazines and Newspapers.)

3. Maintain your momentum.

If you stop for a couple of days, you lose your forward motion. In order to snap-write, you have to keep doing it. So, no matter how busy you are, do something every day, even if it’s only reading your current chapter. Keep the conversations alive, keep the characters responsive. That way, when you do get that half an hour, you can make it count.

4. Always leave yourself an ‘in.’

This one’s stolen straight from Cory Doctorow’s article in Locus – don’t stop at a natural break. That way, when you sit down, you can pick up the thread immediately, because you know exactly where it was going. Simple genius.

5. Have faith in yourself – your confidence matters.

Gareth Powell wrote a fantastic piece on how much first drafts suck. You’re not writing to win the Clarke (well, not most of us anyway); you’re writing for you, writing what you know, and it’s what you do and love best. Have faith and move forwards. However you feel about editing as you go, you can be decisive and believe in what you’ve written. This is your passion and you have the right to do it in your voice.

(How to Create a Writer Blog.)

6. Get your backside off Twitter.

However useful it may be, Social Media the thief of time, big time. Research, pictures, publicity are all necessary – but they’re not writing. However you choose to discipline yourself – turn your server off, seal yourself in another room, promise yourself a cookie when your character makes that critical turning-point, it doesn’t matter. When you have that all-important slot, quit faffing and get on with it.

And that skirting board, there, yes that one, you really don’t need to dust it right now.

Okay. Stop reading this and go and write.

Image placeholder title


Join the Writer's Digest VIP Program today!

You'll get a subscription to the magazine, a
subscription to WritersMarket.com, discounts
on almost everything you buy, a download,
and much more great stuff.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.